The Delphinium Collection is a historic survival from the great era of porcelain collecting after the Second World War. It was formed by two generations of collectors: a fascinating selection of 18th century Meissen porcelain that reflects a scholarly and discerning taste. The collection ranges from Böttger stoneware and porcelain of the earliest period to French-influenced taste of the mid 18th century. It includes a number of exceptionally rare pieces, such as a two-handled jar and cover with chinoiserie decoration, of which only one other example is known in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the only known sugar caster from the first ever Meissen armorial service made for Count Sulkowsky.
The collection also includes numerous rare examples of painted decoration of the 1720s and 1730s, as well as an interesting group painted by different Hausmaler, or outside decorators. Among the most impressive pieces are two Meissen Augustus Rex vases, made for the use of the Saxon Court around 1730: one is decorated in Oriental style and the second – a very large example with a yellow ground – is most likely painted by Adam Friedrich von Löwenfinck with chinoiserie scenes after engravings by Petrus Schenk. Some items also boast a distinguished provenance, including several that were in the collection of the Rev. the Rt. Hon. Lord Byron, a descendent of the poet.
A very rare Meissen yellow-ground Augustus Rex vase, circa 1730-35. Photo Bonhams
The squat baluster body with a flared neck, reserved with brown-edged shaped quatrelobe panels, probably painted by Adam Friedrich von Löwenfinck after engravings by Petrus Schenk, depicting chinoiserie figures and animals in landscape settings, gilt-edged rims, 45.6cm high, A.R. monogram in underglaze-blue (fine short haircrack). Estimate: £80,000 - 120,000 (€93,000 - 140,000) (US$ 120,000 - 190,000)
Georg Tillmann Collection, Hamburg and Amsterdam (according to den Blaauwen, see Literature);
Anon. sale, Weinmüller, Munich, 14 June 1961, lot 129;
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 10 April 1962, lot 159
Literature: A.L. den Blaauwen, Meissen Porcelain in the Rijksmusem (2000), p. 229
The chinoiserie figures on this vase are based in part on prints by Petrus Schenk Jnr. (before 1698-1775), including plates 8, 10 & 14 from his series 'Nieuwe geinventeerde Sineesen...', which comprised two sets of twelve prints and was published by the 1720s (illustrated by A.L. den Blaauwen, Keramik mit Chinoiserien nach Stichen von Petrus Schenk Jun., in Keramos 31 (1966), pp.3-18). Apart from the pair to the present lot sold in 1935, a third, similarly decorated vase - possibly part of the same garniture - was in the possession of the Lucerne dealer, Otto Büel, in 1954 (published in Mitteleilungsblatt der Keramikfreunde der Schweiz 27 (1954), pl. IV, ill. 8), and subsequently in the collection of Dr. Marcel Nyffeler (sold by Christie's London, 9 June 1986, lot 175).
Apart from the yellow-ground examples mentioned above, only a handful of further examples of this rare large form are recorded: a pair in the Rijksmuseum with Kakiemon-style decoration; a single example with yellow ground, reserved with panels depicting a scene after Schenk and birds withindianische Blumen; two vases with a purple ground in the Wadsworth Atheneum; and a pair with tomato-red ground (see Literaure).
A rare Meissen Augustus Rex bottle vase, circa 1730. Photo Bonhams
Painted in an extended Kakiemon palette with flowering branches of indianische Blumen with a bird perched on one branch, the neck with scattered blooms below a band of red foliage reserved with two blue and yellow flower heads,19cm high, AR monogram in underglaze-blue, impressed Dreher's mark + within a circle. Estimate: £60,000 - 80,000 (€70,000 - 93,000) (US$ 93,000 - 120,000)
Provenance: The Property of Albert Rofe, Esq., sold by Sotheby's London, 7 July 1959, lot 55
A similar vase in the David Collection, Copenhagen, is published by Erik Lassen, Die Sammlung David Meissen Porzellan (1985), no. 48.
A very rare Meissen tea and coffee service, circa 1726-28. Photo Bonhams
Painted with unusual chinoiserie harbour scenes depicting figures in harbour and estuary settings, each within a shaped gilt scrollwork cartouche filled with Böttger lustre and embellished with iron-red and purple scrollwork and miniature chinoiserie figures, flanked by sprigs ofindianische Blumen, the covers and sugar bowls with continuous scenes, the interior of the slop bowl with a similar scene in a cartouche, the sugar bowl cover with a gilt rabbit finial, the interiors of the teabowls with a sprig ofindianische Blumen within concentric iron-red circles, gilt scroll- and strapwork borders, comprising:
a coffee pot and cover;
a KPM teapot and cover;
an oval sugar bowl and cover;
an octagonal tea canister and cover;
a slop bowl;
six teabowls and saucers, the coffee pot and cover: 20.5cm high; the teapot and cover: 11.5cm high crossed swords marks (and K.P.M. on the teapot) in underglaze-blue, gilt numeral 49. to all pieces, incised /, incised double circles to teabowls (one saucer cracked) (21). Estimate: £60,000 - 80,000 (€70,000 - 93,000) (US$ 93,000 - 120,000)
Provenance: By family tradition a gift from Augustus the Strong to Sir William Strickland, Fourth Baronet (c.1686-1735), Secretary at War to King George II;
Thence by descent to Mrs A.L. Strickland, by whom sold at Sotheby's London, 28 November 1967, lot 135
A Meissen silver-gilt-mounted cylindrical tankard, circa 1730. Photo Bonhams
Painted with a chinoiserie scene depicting a group of figures around a table with a hare in the foreground and ships in a harbour in the distance, within a gilt scrollwork cartouche filled with Böttger lustre and edged with purple and iron-red foliate scrollwork and tiny chinoiserie figures at the sides, flanked by large flowering branches ofindianische Blumen, with similar flowers to the handle, a gilt scrollwork border to the rim, the silver-gilt cover with a shell thumbpiece, by Peter Mouritts, Amsterdam, 1749, 19.5cm high, (haircrack to handle). Estimate: £15,000 - 20,000 (€17,000 - 23,000) (US$ 23,000 - 31,000)
Provenance: Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 12 May 1959, lot 112
An extremely rare Meissen two-handled jar and cover, late 1720s. Photo Bonhams
Of squat baluster shape, with plain scroll handles and button finial, sprigged in relief with fruiting vines heightened in enamels around the handles, painted on both sides with fine chinoiserie figures in the manner of J. G. Höroldt on gilt scrollwork and Böttger lustre brackets, and on three vignettes on the cover, the borders with Laub- und Bandelwerk incorporating Böttger Lustre, the rim of the cover with a gilt scrollwork on a band of Böttger lustre, the finial coloured in enamels and gilding, the handles embellished with fine scrollwork and coloured panels,12cm high (2). Estimate: £15,000 - 20,000 (€17,000 - 23,000) (US$ 23,000 - 31,000)
Provenance: The Reverend the Rt. Hon. Lord Byron (Frederick Byron, 10th Baron Byron 1861-1949), Thrumpton Hall, Nottinghamshire.
The only other published example of this form is in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Inv. BK-17416), formerly in the celebrated collections of Franz and Margarite Oppenheimer, Berlin (to 1938), and Dr. Fritz Manheimer, Amsterdam (published by A.L. den Blaauwen, Meissen Porcelain in the Rijksmuseum, 2000, no.58). The Rijksmuseum example differs in several details, with three paw feet, a continuous chinoiserie scene, a simple gilt border to the rim of the cover, and a conical finial.
A very rare Meissen Böttger stoneware coffee pot and cover, circa 1710-13. Photo Bonhams
Of octagonal baluster form with an S-scroll handle and a curved, faceted handle moulded with a serpent mouth at the base, the panels moulded with a faint diaper pattern, the dome cover similar, the inside of the cover with a black glaze, 15cm high, black-painted Japanese Palace inventory numbers 222./ R. (coffee pot) and 222 (cover) (finial missing, small chip and repair to tip of spout) (2). Estimate: £10,000 - 15,000 (€12,000 - 17,000) (US$ 16,000 - 23,000)
Provenance: Royal Collections of Saxony, Japanese Palace, Dresden
The 1770 inventory of the Japanese Palace lists under No. 222: 'Eilf Stück 8.eckichte Coffé Känngen, mit Deckel und Schnautze, 7. Zoll hoch, 4. Zoll in Diam: 3. Deckel sind schadhafft' [eleven octagonal coffee pots, with covers and spouts, 7 zoll high, 4 zoll diam., three covers are damaged]; quoted by Claus Boltz, Japanisches Palais-Inventar 1770 und Turmzimmer-Inventar 1769, in Keramos 153 (1996), p. 107. A very similar coffee pot and cover - possibly the present lot - was sold from Saxon Royal collections by Rudoph Lepke's Kunst-Auctions-Haus, 7-8 October 1919, lot 3. Another example in the Porzellansammlung, Dresden, is illustrated by E. Zimmermann, Erfindung und Frühzeit des Meissner Porzellans (1908), ill. 38.
Bonhams. 20 Mar 2013 10:30 GMT London, New Bond Street. The Delphinium Collection: a private British collection of 18th century Meissen